On January 23, 2008: Don’t Be Fooled

Days before the South Carolina primary in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama told a crowd gathered in Sumter to be wary of others’ remarks that Mr. Obama could not win the election. He spoke in a style he knew his audience would understand:
“Don’t be confused when you start hearing a whole bunch of this negative stuff. Those are the same old tricks. They’re trying to bamboozle you. It’s the same old okey doke……Don't let people turn you around, because they're just making stuff up! That's what they do. They try to bamboozle you…. to hoodwink you!"
Eight years later, on January 20, 2016, President Obama visited the Detroit Auto Show. He wanted to shine a light on Detroit and the recovery of the automobile industry, but the water crisis in nearby Flint, Michigan - a largely poor, African American community - dominated the news.

When Flint officials changed the water supply source two years ago, residents almost immediately began complaining about the color and smell of the water. Their concerns were repeatedly ignored until it became a full blown crisis featuring lead poisoning and resignations from the governor’s office. Authorities had tried to bamboozle the people, but the people pressed on.

People have been rising up against other “okey dokes” too.

Police mistreatment and killing of African Americans in cities around the country, and the recent outrage at the all-white list of Oscar nominees, have spotlighted ongoing wrongs that people apparently aren’t letting go anymore.

Recently, Tavis Smiley - no friend of President Obama - wrote a book showing how Black Americans have lost ground on every leading economic issue over the past 10 years. And GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “President Obama, an African-American, has done a terrible job for African-Americans.”

Those charges will get sorted out over time. But for now, we see people fired up against injustices, calling out the “okey dokes,” and getting results.

The day after President Obama told the people of Flint he ‘had their back,’ one of the prisoners freed in the recent Iran Deal arrived home. In an ironic twist, Amir Hekmati came home to Flint, Michigan.

For a compelling history of the 2008 campaign, as told by news media, politicians, and ordinary people, see King's Dream: Barack Obama Becomes President of the United States of America.